What is important to know about printing with two extruders: special aspects, advantages, disadvantages
- December 7, 2016
3D printers with two extruders allow printing with no fewer than two different filaments. Thanks to that you don’t have to stop the printing process in order to create goods form various materials. Moreover, you can print models with two materials simultaneously, combining filaments of different types and colors. Machines with two extruders have many advantages. But it is not so easy to work with them as it can seem at first glance.
What is necessary to know about the process of printing with two extruders
1. When modeling, you have to factor in that the availability of the second nozzle decreases the printable area along the Y axis.
2. The distance between the build platform and every nozzle must be the same. For this purpose you have to take care of the correct calibration of the platform, and check whether the nozzles are placed correctly. It is better to use the test print mode for maximally precise calibration.
3. You have to adjust the slicer settings before printing: specify that the print will proceed with two extruders and set the correct offset value along the Y axis. To define the offset, make sure to measure the distance between extruders after the final calibration of the device.
4. If you 3D print with only one extruder, the second one must be removed. If you cannot do it, the second extruder must be also heated to the working temperature for the cold nozzle not to damage the product during the printing process.
Functional capabilities of 3D printers with two extruders
Devices with two extruders are applied for various purposes. Firstly, they allow printing models of complex geometrical shape with many supports. These supports are printed with the second extruder from less expensive, water-soluble filament that can be easily removed after the printing is finished. To use the second nozzle for this purpose, choose the option “Support extruder” in the print settings.
Secondly, two extruders allow printing products of different colors, which reduces the post processing period. Be aware that for printing in two colors you have to upload two different STL files, meaning that you have to divide the model in two parts according to the colors at the stage of modeling. The first one is set to work with one extruder, and the second – with the other extruder.
To check whether everything has been done correctly, you can join the models together. Only afterwards you can get down to printing.
Advantages and disadvantages of machines with two extruders
Some advantages were already described above – the possibility to use materials of different type and color, no need to stop the printing process in order to load the filament, etc. Moreover, printing with two extruders is faster than with one, as they are always ready for operation.
However such 3D printers have some small disadvantages. Specifically, if both extruders are positioned on one printing head, they will print in different colors not simultaneously, but by turn. Besides that, the printable area along the Y axis will get smaller, and calibration along with device setup will require more attention and take more time than checking the print settings of 3D printer with one extruder.
Thus, when buying a 3D device with two extruders, you should be ready for many unsuccessful experiments. You will be able to truly evaluate the benefits of these printers only with time, after gaining experience and specific skills.
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